Follow us on
Facebook Icon LinkedIn Icon Twitter Icon Youtube Icon Instagram Icon
Feature Image

New Music: March 2024 - Curated by Sharon O'Connell

Sharon O’Connell selects four standout albums to listen to this month, including Atlanta musician Faye Webster’s gently powerful reflection on heartache, Irish singer-songwriter Oisin Leech’s atmospheric collection of tracks inspired by coastal landscapes and experimental vocalist Ganavya’s captivating meditations on life, grief and making music

Tags: Music,

Listen now on

Faye Webster

Underdressed At The Symphony

The title of Faye Webster’s fifth album refers to the often unplanned evenings she spent in the symphony hall of her hometown of Atlanta, while she worked on her latest release and navigated a difficult break-up. Though there’s no obvious direct influence here, she’s alert to orchestral music’s mood and arrangement possibilities, folding them into the folk and country she heard at home growing up and her love of R&B and hip hop, which she cut her teeth on.

Webster’s music has always dodged easy categorisation, but Underdressed… is her most label-averse, heartfelt and confident record yet. Its 10 songs are gently despondent, innately stylish and lyrically unadorned, suggesting Whitney and Wilco as kindred spirits. (Wilco’s guitarist Nels Cline makes a guest appearance, performing on a couple of tracks.)

Her long-term band are terrific carriers for her modern songcraft, providing a simpático foil for her voice, which is light and sounds slightly wounded, whether she’s in unguardedly downbeat or intentionally droll mode. Standout moments include ‘Thinking About You’, where the piano gently shifts and pitches along Americana-jazz lines while a soft-burred, lazy-day guitar motif rolls across, and ‘He Loves Me Yeah!’ distinguished by its fuzz-caked guitar vamp and contrasting piano trill.

Out now.

Label: Secretly Canadian

Oisin Leech

Cold Sea

Oisin Leech is perhaps best known as one half of Ireland’s Lost Brothers, who create impeccably harmonised autumnal folk. Cold Sea is his first solo offering, however he’s not completely alone.

US modernist Steve Gunn lends his electric and acoustic six-string skills, along with playing synth and producing, while Mitch Ward (a long-time collaborator) and Tony Garnier (who’s served for decades with Bob Dylan) perform on upright and electric bass. Strings, slide guitar and bouzouki also feature.

Together, these musicians conjure places that – aside from the sweetly twangled ‘Trawbreaga Bay’ and Nick Drake-aligned ‘Malin Gales’ – are non-specific yet instantly recognisable, reflecting Leech’s understanding of the deep emotional memories held by sea, sky, air and mountain, whatever the locale. The timeless, still quality of his songwriting and the slightly lonesome ache in his voice recall Drake and Bert Jansch and there’s a connection to Erland Cooper’s ambient pastoral explorations, but Leech ranges wide. ‘Maritime Radio’, which marks the record’s mid-point, is a beguiling if brief divergence: here, beneath heavily reverbed, Vini Reilly-like guitar ripples sits a spoken-word sample from an RTE Radio 1 weather report.  

Out now.

Label: Rough Trade 

Sheer Mag

Playing Favorites

This is the first album in five years from Philadelphian quartet Sheer Mag, who recently signed to Jack White’s label. As the title indicates, the group are still having a blast, playing songs that salute the redemptive power of rock’n’roll, while also drawing on their strong punk / DIY ethos and sociopolitical left leanings. 

That they’re riding the glee train is obvious: “And we’re back on the road/South bound, trying to get away from the cold,” hollers Tina Halladay on the opening title track, in her powerhouse roar, then, “God it’s been such a long time/Since we laughed so hard that we cried”. Those sentiments, coupled with echoes of Thin Lizzy, Free, Kiss, The Runaways and Sweet suggest a(nother) band trading on rock’s mythos and retro cachet. Yet there are stylistic detours and emotional depths beneath Playing Favorites’ surface. Tuareg guitar superstar Mdou Moctar steps up for a solo on the dreamy ‘Mechanical Garden’ and there’s something almost comical in the pumped chorus of ‘I Gotta Go’, whilst bar-room chugger ‘Golden Hour’ unexpectedly addresses the death of a close friend. Playing faves, perhaps, but with feeling.

Out now.

Label: Third Man


like the sky i’ve been too quiet

A native New Yorker raised in Tamil Nadu, Ganavya (Doraiswamy) is a multi-instrumentalist and singer in the Carnatic tradition. Her first album of original material sees her collaborate with Shabaka Hutchings (avant jazz saxophonist/flautist and here, producer) and leftfield electronic artists Floating Points and Leafcutter John, among others.

like the sky… combines spiritual jazz and ambient soundscapes to tranquil, even meditative effect, though the deeply soulful nature of Ganavya’s vocals, sung in both Tamil and English, is as earthy and sorrowful as it is blissful and transportive. All 13 tracks qualify as “sound elixirs”, Ganavya’s own term which describes music that for her helps correct a physical, psychic or emotional lack. Whilst the album is best played as a set piece, there are highlights: ‘first notebook of songs’ is a dazzling interplay of rapidly bubbling synth, steady drone and sighing, pastoral flute, through which Ganavya’s voice weaves with extraordinary grace, before something like dread descends at its close. Similarly, ‘call it luck if you want to’ counters fast-pulsing synths with sombre, double-bass lines, at its heart a yearning vocal that recalls Alice Coltrane’s Kirtan: Turiya Sings

Out now.

Label: Native Rebel Recordings

Share this article: